BEST OF

Best No Annual Fee Travel Credit Cards of December 2020

NerdWalletNovember 23, 2020
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No-annual-fee travel credit cards offer rewards for no yearly cost of card ownership. This can be appealing to frugal or infrequent travelers. Keep in mind, however, that these cards lack the richer rewards and perks of cards that do charge annual fees. For some travelers, paying an annual fee is worth it thanks to those incentives, which can include things like travel credits, bonus rewards, airport lounge access, free checked bags, priority boarding, hotel status and more. The value of such perks can more than offset an annual fee. But for those who are adamantly opposed to paying one, here are our favorite no-annual-fee travel cards.

NerdWallet's Best No Annual Fee Travel Credit Cards of December 2020

Best No Annual Fee Travel Credit Cards From Our Partners

Our picks for

General travel

on Bank of America's website

4.3

NerdWallet rating 

on Bank of America's website

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

14.99% - 22.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Purchases for 12 billing cycles

Recommended Credit Score

The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card is blessedly simple. You earn 1.5 points per dollar spent on all purchases. Redeem those points for travel, either by booking through the issuer or as a credit on your statement.

Pros

This card has one of the broadest definitions of travel, giving you more ways to use your points. You can also earn up to 75% more points if you’re a Preferred Rewards client. There's a nice sign-up bonus and a 0% APR period, too. And since it's a Visa card, you'll find broad acceptance overseas.

Cons

A flat-rate card means you don't earn bonus rewards for travel purchases.

  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire
  • 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases
  • Use your card to book your trip how and where you want - you're not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions
  • Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for car and vacation rentals, hotels, flights or baggage fees, even campgrounds and tourist attractions
  • 0% Introductory APR for 12 billing cycles for purchases. After the intro APR ends, 14.99% - 22.99% Variable APR will apply
  • If you're a Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25% - 75% more points on every purchase
  • Contactless Cards - The security of a chip card, with the convenience of a tap

on Discover's website, or call (800) 347-0264

Rates & Fees

4.1

NerdWallet rating 

on Discover's website, or call (800) 347-0264

Rates & Fees
Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

11.99% - 22.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Purchases for 14 months and 10.99% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 14 months

Recommended Credit Score

The Discover it® Miles offers simple flat-rate rewards, gives you control over how big your new-cardholder bonus will be, and is the rare travel card that lets you redeem your miles for cash back with no loss in value.

Pros

You earn 1.5 miles per dollar spent on all purchases. Miles are worth 1 cent apiece when redeemed for statement credit against travel purchases or for cash back. The introductory 0% APR period is one of the best in its class. And you get Discover's unique sign-up offer: UNLIMITED BONUS: Only Discover will automatically match all the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles. There’s no signing up, no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a Miles-for-Miles match.

Cons

Discover's acceptance is limited internationally. If your travels will take you outside the U.S., bring along another card or two for backup.

  • UNLIMITED BONUS: Only Discover will automatically match all the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles.  There’s no signing up, no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a Miles-for-Miles match.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5x Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases - with no annual fee.
  • Turn Miles into cash in any amount, any time. Or redeem as a statement credit for travel purchases like airfare, hotels, rideshares, gas stations, restaurants and more with no blackout dates. However you redeem, Miles keep the same value. And Miles never expire.
  • No Blackout Dates. Simply pay for travel purchases like airlines, hotels, rental cars, and more with your Discover it® Miles card.
  • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.
  • Freeze your account in seconds with an on/off switch either on the mobile app or website to prevent new purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • View Rates and Fees

on Capital One's website

3.8

NerdWallet rating 

on Capital One's website

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

15.49% - 25.49% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Purchases for 12 months

Recommended Credit Score

The Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card offers an unlimited 1.25 miles per dollar spent.

Pros

Miles can be redeemed for statement credit against travel purchases at a value of 1 cent per mile, with no restrictions on when you travel. There's a sign-up bonus, too: Earn a bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel.

Cons

The ongoing rewards rate is lower than what some competitors offer.

  • $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Earn a bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates and fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Transfer your miles to over 10+ travel loyalty programs
  • Enjoy 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months; 15.49% - 25.49% variable APR after that

Our picks for

Airline travel

on Citibank's application

3.2

NerdWallet rating 

on Citibank's application

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

15.99% - 24.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score

For occasional but loyal American Airlines flyers, the $0-annual-fee American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card is a cost-effective way to earn miles on everyday purchases.

Pros

The American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card earns 2 AAdvantage miles per $1 spent at grocery stores and on eligible American Airlines purchases, and 1 AAdvantage mile for every $1 spent on other purchases. It also offers a sign-up bonus, plus a discount on in-flight food and beverage purchases made with the card.

Cons

The card doesn't offer free checked bags, and its 3% foreign transaction fee could get costly if you frequently travel internationally.

  • Earn 10,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles and receive a $50 statement credit after making $500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for each $1 spent at grocery stores, including grocery delivery services.
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases.
  • Earn 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases.
  • Save 25% on inflight food and beverage purchases when you use your card on American Airlines flights*
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 15.99% - 24.99%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.

on American Express's website

Rates & Fees

3.9

NerdWallet rating 

on American Express's website

Rates & Fees
Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

15.74% - 24.74% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score

The Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card is an ideal option for Delta devotees who want rewards without paying an annual fee.

Pros

Earn 2 miles per $1 spent at restaurants worldwide and on purchases made directly with Delta, and 1 mile per $1 spent on other purchases. The card features a modest welcome bonus, plus a 20% discount on in-flight purchases in the form of statement credit when you use the card to buy food, beverages or audio headsets. Terms apply.

Cons

It doesn’t offer perks like free checked bags or priority boarding. Since it's an American Express card, you may face limited acceptance abroad.

  • Earn 10,000 bonus miles after you spend $500 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • NEW! Earn 2X Miles per dollar at restaurants, now worldwide.
  • Earn 2X Miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases.
  • Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.
  • NEW! No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Receive a 20% savings in the form of a statement credit after you use your Card on eligible Delta in-flight purchases of food, beverages, and audio headsets.
  • Terms Apply.
  • View Rates and Fees

Our picks for

Hotel travel

on Chase's website

3.0

NerdWallet rating 

on Chase's website

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

15.99% - 22.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score

The Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card offers bonus rewards on purchases made at Marriott Bonvoy hotels, but also on other travel purchases. You'll also earn automatic Silver status and the valuable perks that come with it.

Pros

Earn 3 points per $1 spent at qualifying Marriott Bonvoy hotels, 2 points per $1 spent on other travel purchases (from airfare to taxis and trains) and 1 point per $1 spent on everything else. The automatic Silver status benefit includes perks like priority late checkout, a 10% point bonus on stays, free Wi-Fi and more. There's also a sign-up bonus.

Cons

Unlike other hotel cards with annual fees, you won't get a free night's stay every anniversary. Also, bonus categories are somewhat limited compared with other cards.

  • Earn 30,000 Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • No Annual Fee!
  • Earn 3X Bonvoy points per $1 spent at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy™.
  • 2X Bonvoy points for every $1 spent on other travel purchases (from airfare to taxis and trains).
  • 1X point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Receive 15 Elite Night Credits annually, qualifying you for Silver Elite Status. Restrictions apply.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Earn unlimited Marriott Bonvoy points and get Free Night Stays faster.

on American Express's website

Rates & Fees

3.7

NerdWallet rating 

on American Express's website

Rates & Fees
Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

15.74% - 24.74% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score

The Hilton Honors American Express Card earns bonus rewards on Hilton stays and in common everyday categories. You also get automatic Silver status. Terms apply.

Pros

Earn 7 Hilton Honors bonus points per dollar spent directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton Honors portfolio of brands; 5 points per dollar at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations; and 3 per dollar on all other purchases. It also offers a welcome bonus: Earn 80,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Card after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.

Cons

It doesn't offer an automatic award night every year, and point values are lower than they are in several other award programs. As an American Express card, acceptance abroad may be limited.

  • Earn 80,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Card after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio.
  • Earn 5X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.
  • Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees. Enjoy international travel without additional fees on purchases made abroad.
  • Enjoy complimentary Hilton Honors Silver status with your Card. Plus, spend $20,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn an upgrade to Hilton Honors Gold status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • View Rates and Fees

on Chase's website

3.2

NerdWallet rating 

on Chase's website

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

15.99% - 22.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score

The IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card earns rewards quickly on IHG hotel stays and eligible everyday purchases.

Pros

Earn 15 points total per $1 spent on stays at IHG hotels (5 points with the card and 10 points as an IHG Rewards Club member); 2 points per $1 spent on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants; and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. The card doesn't charge a foreign transaction fee, and there's a generous sign-up bonus. It also offers a fourth night free when you redeem points for a stay of four nights or more. Terms apply.

Cons

Unlike some other hotel credit cards, this card doesn’t offer automatic elite status. You have to spend $10,000 to earn Gold status and the perks that come with it. There's no free anniversary night benefit, and point values are relatively low.

  • Earn 100,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening
  • No Annual Fee
  • Earn up to 15 points total per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants. Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Fourth Reward Night Free
  • IHG Rewards Club Bonus points are redeemable at hotels such as InterContinental®, Crowne Plaza®, Kimpton®, EVEN® Hotels, Indigo® Hotels & Holiday Inn®

Want to compare more options? Here are our other top picks:

FULL LIST OF EDITORIAL PICKS: BEST NO ANNUAL FEE TRAVEL CARDS

Click the card name to read our review. Before applying, confirm details on the issuer’s website.

» FOR GENERAL-PURPOSE TRAVEL REWARDS 

The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card offers so much value, it's hard to believe there's no annual fee. Start with a great bonus offer, then earn extra rewards in a host of common spending categories — restaurants, gas stations, transit, travel, streaming and more. Read our review.

One of the best no-annual-fee travel cards available, the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card gives you a solid rewards rate on every purchase, with points that can be redeemed for any travel purchase, without the restrictions of branded airline and hotel cards. Bank of America® has an expansive definition of "travel," too, giving you additional flexibility in how you use your rewards. Read our review.

The Discover it® Miles is the rare travel credit card that lets you redeem your rewards for travel or for cash back at the same rate. You earn unlimited 1.5 miles per dollar spent on purchases, and the miles are generally worth 1 cent apiece — that's a solid rate for a card with no annual fee. As with other Discover cards, this one matches the rewards you earn in your first year. Read our review.

With the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card, you don't pay an annual fee, but you also don't get rewards as rich as those on the regular Venture card. Read our review.

» FOR AIRLINE TRAVEL 

For occasional but loyal American Airlines flyers, the no-annual-fee American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card is a cost-effective way to earn miles on everyday purchases. Read our review.

To unlock the most valuable perks of airline credit cards, you'll have to pay an annual fee. But if you're a leisure traveler just hoping to earn airline miles in the background, it's hard to do better than the Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card. Read our review.

With the JetBlue Card, you can earn easy rewards on everyday purchases in addition to airfare. And you won’t have to worry about blackout dates once you’re ready to redeem them. Read our review.

» FOR HOTEL REWARDS 

The Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card offers bonus rewards not only on purchases at Marriott Bonvoy hotels, but also on other travel purchases. Plus, you'll earn automatic Silver status and the valuable perks that come with it. Read our review.

The Hilton Honors American Express Card earns bonus rewards on Hilton stays and in common everyday categories. You also get automatic Silver status. Terms apply. Read our review.

The IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card earns rewards quickly on IHG hotel stays and eligible everyday purchases. Read our review.

The Wyndham Rewards® Earner℠ Credit Card rewards you well for Wyndham stays, while also earning bonus points in some popular everyday categories. It offers Gold status and a way to earn a free night each year if you spend enough, all for a $0 annual fee. Read our review.

The Best Western Rewards® Mastercard® offers solid rewards you can redeem for stays and a variety of other options. With automatic Gold status, you also get additional perks. Read our review.

OTHER TRAVEL OPTIONS

For PenFed Credit Union members

The PenFed Pathfinder Rewards American Express® Card is available to PenFed credit union members only, but it offers rich ongoing rewards and introductory offers. The sign-up bonus offers 25,000 bonus points by spending $2,500 in the first 90 days of account opening. The card also provides an annual travel credit and a statement credit for airport security screening programs — perks mostly found on premium travel credit cards with high annual fees.

To view rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card, please visit this page.

Last updated on November 23, 2020

Methodology

NerdWallet's credit cards team selects the best cards in each category based on overall consumer value. Factors in our evaluation include fees, promotional and ongoing APRs, and sign-up bonuses; for rewards cards, we consider earning and redemption rates, redemption options and redemption difficulty. A single card is eligible to be chosen in multiple categories.